Let's Survey the Demise of Spreadsheets

Have all the data transfer rates, director commentaries and big-digit lens aperture you want, DVD and Blu-ray, your days are numbered, you just don’t know it yet.

Once home video offerings of subscription on-demand services and cable on-demand took root, the death knell toward obsolescence started chiming for those prior distribution technologies. Just ask PwC.

(Don’t even talk to us, flip-over-mid-movie LaserDiscs.)

The same bell is ringing ever louder these days for spreadsheets as a reliable revenue management resource. The double whammy reasons? The newly converged revenue recognition standards and growing complexity of revenue recognition as a whole.

The latest findings in support of this theory come from a new global survey of finance leaders, complete with some startling facts, but only for those who haven’t been paying attention.

The report, “The New World of Revenue Management,” by the professional network Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) and sponsored by FinancialForce, indicates though spreadsheets are still the most commonly used method of revenue recognition tracking, many companies now realize the changing standards highlight the inadequacy of this method.

This survey of CFOs, controllers, directors and others last year also found the highest level of satisfaction (40% “very satisfied”) from respondents using ERP or purpose-built accounting applications to track revenue. Why? Some noted no longer having to worry about the fragility of massive spreadsheets.

However, as noted in this space – and by our friends at EY – previously, today’s increased complexity in revenue recognition has gone to a level beyond ERP systems themselves.

“Historically, ERP systems were generally not designed to perform complex revenue accounting.”

– John McGaw and Jeff Johnson, EY, in CFO.com

Other survey findings:

* Two thirds of respondents said they’ve yet to assess the new standards.

* About 30% expected the new revenue recognition standards to have either somewhat or a great deal of impact on their company, especially revenue processes.

* However, as much as 19% were still unsure if the guidelines applied to their company.

The report likens the complexity of revenue recognition today to a veritable nightmare for the finance staffers tasked with ensuring the right models are being used in the correct way. There’s currently a 60/40 split between multiple element and single element contracts, according to responses. Billing types are becoming more diverse and billing triggers vary between corporations. These and more reasons are why firms are less likely to put their faith in spreadsheets.

Current market demand is leading to new billing models, and the response is better software and technology.

Hey, DVDs had a good run, too.

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